EAGLE ROCK (CBS) — Occidental College Friday renamed its football stadium afterJack Kemp, a quarterback at the school in the 1950s who went on to become a pro-football player and later, a leading Republican in the House of Representatives.
A statue of Kemp, who died in 2009, was also unveiled.
“I regret that I didn’t have the opportunity to know Jack personally,” Occidental President Jonathan Veitch told the crowd of about 300, which included Kemp’s widow Joanne, his son Jeff, a former Los Angeles Rams quarterback, Jim Mora, a former coach of the New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts and Kemp’s Occidental teammate and classmate, Rep. Dan Lungren, who served with Kemp in Congress for 10 years, and the entire Occidental football team.
“Even so, I can testify to the power of his life as an inspiring example of the value of a liberal arts education. How many pro quarterbacks read works by major economic theorists and political philosophers on the flights between pro football games? Jack Kemp did.
“How many pro quarterbacks can win the big games and write newspaper editorials during the off season? Jack Kemp did. How many pro athletes can claim their pioneering leadership helped launch a political revolution? Jack Kemp could.”
Kemp was born in Los Angeles on July 13, 1935 and graduated from Fairfax High School in 1953 and Occidental in 1957.
The creation of the American Football League allowed Kemp to have a pro-football career after he was cut by four NFL teams and the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League.
Kemp played in the AFL throughout its 10-year history, playing for the Los Angeles-San Diego Chargers from 1960-62 and the Buffalo Bills from 1962-69.
Kemp helped lead the Bills to the 1964 and 1965 AFL championships and was named as the league’s most valuable player in 1965 in a vote conducted by The Associated Press.
Kemp was first elected to the House in 1970, representing a suburban Buffalo district. He was a champion of supply-side economics, which emphasize tax cuts, enterprise zones and other ways of fostering economic growth.
Former first lady Nancy Reagan called Kemp “one of the strongest Reagan cheerleaders we’ve ever had, spreading the message of prosperity through freedom and tax reductions.”
Kemp unsuccessfully sought the Republican presidential nomination in 1988, was secretary of housing and urban development in the George H.W. Bush and the Republican vice presidential nominee in 1996.
When Kemp died in 2009 at the age of 73, President Barack Obama, who attended Occidental for two years before transferring to Columbia University to complete his undergraduate education said in a statement, “Jack Kemp’s commitment to public service and his passion for politics influenced not only the direction of his party, but his country.
“From his tenure as a Buffalo congressman to his ascent in national politics, Jack Kemp was a man who could fiercely advocate his own beliefs and principles while also remembering the lessons he learned years earlier on the football field that bitter divisiveness between race and class and station only stood in the way of the common aim of a team to win.”
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